Disney CEO Bob Iger Speaks Out on “Don’t Say Gay”, Dismantling of Reedy Creek Improvement District, Political Statements, and More

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In an employee town hall meeting this morning, Disney CEO Bob Iger fielded questions from employees and Cast Members about his vision for the future of The Walt Disney Company. While we’ve covered some of his previous answers about the planned Walt Disney Imagineering relocation to Florida and the Disney Park Pass reservation system, we wanted to cover some of the other topics that Iger commented on.

“Don’t Say Gay” Law

Former Disney CEO Bob Chapek essentially stepped in it early on with a decision to not denounce the “Don’t Say Gay” bill passing through the Florida legislature. obtained a copy of the email that Chapek sent to employees and the backlash over Chapek’s refusal to denounce the legislation was swift. Chapek’s fumbling of the topic was reportedly an early point of contention with Iger, but Iger largely remained silent on the topic sans a tweet that voiced opposition to the bill. Now, as CEO, Iger has spoken out.

“This company has been telling stories for 100 years, and those stories have had a meaningful, positive impact on the world. And one of the reasons that they’ve had a meaningful, positive impact is because one of the core values of our storytelling is inclusion and acceptance and tolerance. And we can’t lose that. We just can’t lose that.”

Iger went on to talk about films like Black Panther and Coco and how they have changed the world for the good.

Iger noted that it is important to listen to the audience and not have distain for them. But, he noted that “we’re not going to make everybody happy all the time, and we’re not going to try to. We’re certainly not going to lessen our core values in order to make everybody happy all the time. So it’s complicated and there’s a balance…”. Iger noted that Disney will not stop trying to do the right thing.

Reedy Creek Improvement District and Battle With Florida

As a result of Chapek’s eventual stance in support of the LGBTQ community, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Florida Republicans sought to penalize Disney. Their solution was to dismantle the Reedy Creek Improvement District – which is a special taxing district established by Disney in the 1960s. Iger was asked about his opinion on the planned dismantling of the district in 2023.

When asked if he had any thoughts on how to “tackle the Reedy Creek situation in Florida”, Iger responded with a quick “no” before expanding on the topic. Iger said that the development occurred after he left the company, but that he has kept up with the news of the plans.

“I was sorry to see us dragged into that battle, and I have no idea what its ramifications are in terms of the business itself. What I can say is that the state of Florida has been very important to us for a long time and that we have been very important to the state of Florida. That is something that I’m extremely mindful of and will articulate if I have the chance, but I don’t have the details at all yet about what the ramifications are of the decision that was made by the state of Florida and whether we intend to do anything about it”.

Disney Stepping Into Politics

Another topic came via a virtual question, saying that many Disney employees wished that the Company would stay out of politics and asking Iger “will Disney stay out of making political statements”. Iger noted that many of the things that people think are political, are not. Here’s what he said:

“I think there is a misperception here on what politics is. I think that some of the subjects that have proven to be controversial as it relates to Disney have been branded ‘political’, and I don’t necessarily think they are. I don’t think that when you are telling stories and attempting to be a good citizen of the world that that’s political. Just not how I view it. Do I like the company being embroiled in controversy? Of course not – it can be distracting and it can have a negative impact on the company. To the extent that I can work to quiet things down, I’m going to do that, but I think it’s important to put in perspective what some of these subjects are and not just simply brand them political.”

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